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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Annals of Seasonality: Are Family Therapists Prey to a December Effect? A January Effect?

Click to enlarge. (On the right--The Bluth Family)
It's common knowledge that holiday season revenues, not Santa, are a retailer’s saving grace. According to Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (this blog’s home state), holiday sales account for about 25 percent of annual business for the average Massachusetts store.

But the retail world is not alone as the recipient of a holiday spike. That’s at least the contention of seven therapists and a priest who counseled this blogger for free about the matter (although one of them seemed on the verge of advising, I’m sorry, but we have to stop.)

The inspiration for the current investigation was my pal the priest—the same spiritual visionary who graced this blog last April in a post on spiffy vestments. In our tete a tete about the holiday spike, Father Guido (I’ve changed his name) confessed that he used to get so overloaded from counseling despondent family members during the holidays, that he would religiously repair to a nearby monastery in January to decompress.

When a retired therapist noted that she also left the stadium in January after working with dysfunctional families in December, I asked myself, Have I discovered a January Effect as well as a December Effect?

Not so, according to the six other therapists, who insisted that they soldier on with their clients into the new year. But all seven therapists and my friend the priest swear absolutely by the December Effect. And what a pity, one of them noted, that the American pastime of recreational shopping is useless as an emotional safety valve in December. How could it be anything but part of the problem? he lamented.

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